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Sawmill Bringing New Levels of Retail to Flagstaff

Momentum to complete Aspen Place at Sawmill is going strong, although it might have a different look than originally planned. It will still have a vibrant business district, but instead of a residential district of single-family homes, townhouses and condos, there will be a student housing project, called The Grove at Flagstaff.

Elaine Averitt, a planner for the city, said the developer, Campus Crest, plans 10 buildings, all four stories, except for one three-story building. There will be amenities for the students such as a basketball court, pool, volleyball courts and a clubhouse with a library, study rooms and a common area with a big fireplace.

“It sounds like it is a nice development because their program includes a lot of activities for students,” Averitt said. “It should be ready by August 2012.”

She said this project should help relieve the student housing shortage in Flagstaff.

“It makes sense. It is close to the university. I think it is the right thing to do,” she said.

The original development was planned to target upscale residents and offer a pedestrian-friendly community near downtown. The 20 acres of housing was expected to run from $400,00 to $900,000.

Under the original 20-year agreement with Aspen, the project was expected to generate $36.2 million in taxes and fees to the city, including tax revenue from the shops and restaurants at $24.4 million, property taxes at $8 million and the sales tax during the construction of the project estimated at $1.5 million.

But the original developer, The Aspen Group, after putting in a lot of infrastructure, fell into default because of the downturn in the economy, leaving the city in the lurch for work already completed that was paid for by bonds the developer was unable to pay.

The residential project fell into the hands of the city in June 2010. It was put up for bid and then purchased by Campus Crest earlier this year.

Red Development bought from Aspen the north half of the project and continued filling the retail shops.

“We have been able to turn it around quite a bit and have had quite a bit of success with it,“ said Brett Heron, managing partner of Red Development Realty Advisors.

“We were attracted to the location and [its current businesses], Pita Jungle and the Sunflower Bread Company.”

He said under its new management, Flagstaff Jean Company is open, with Flagstaff Face and Body’s relocation underway. Chicos’ opening is also imminent.

Now, he expects to attract more local and national businesses.

“We are planning grand opening events in November and bringing in some other tenants who are not currently in Flagstaff, some sit-down restaurants and some casual restaurants we will announce in the coming months,” Heron said. “There could be up to 10 to 15 more tenants in the existing building and we have enough land to build an additional 85,000 square feet.”

He said in addition, his company plans to provide a gathering place for residents where live music and other events can be enjoyed. FBN


To learn more about what is going on at Aspen Place, visit www.aspenplace.com.


Photo of Andrea Labelle, owner Flagstaff Jean Company   Taken by Michael Bielecki

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